Calgary Flames to announce Glen Gulutzan as head coach

Following the 2015-16 season, it became evident the Flames needed a new coach. It wasn’t just because they had been in the playoffs the year before, and failed to make it this past season – it was because Bob Hartley, who had been hired under the previous regime before the lockout in 2012, had taken the Flames as far as he could.

There was a semblance of year-to-year growth as Hartley inherited a suddenly-rebuilding team, and the futures of the franchise – the Sean Monahans, the Johnny Gaudreaus – learned how to play under him. But without overall notable improvement, it was time to move on.

The situation wasn’t that unique to Hartley and the Flames. Often times, rebuilding teams don’t stick with the same coach: they have one guy at the helm for the beginning, until inevitably, they have to move on. It happened to the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings en route to multiple Stanley Cups; a coaching change even brought the Pittsburgh Penguins their fourth Cup in franchise history just this season.

To that end, the Flames are expected to name their replacement in mere hours: Glen Gulutzan, the former head coach of the Dallas Stars, and most recently, assistant coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Moving on

Hartley brought a spark of life back to the Flames: but there’s only so far that spark can take a team. Eventually, messages wear thin; eventually, it’s time to move on.

There was a key difference in philosophy within the organization. Hartley stressed a blue collar game, complete with grit and shot-blocking; General Manager Brad Treliving stressed a puck possession game. He even brought in Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik the off-season before to address the style of play he wanted – and while the Flames’ overall corsi did go up, the new acquisitions likely did not receive sufficient utilization, and it’s possible the Flames were prevented from being as good as they could have been due to opposing philosophies (and goaltending. Goaltending was very bad).

Treliving did not hire Hartley, but he kept him on board for the first two seasons of his tenure, including an extension the year he won the Jack Adams. It was best to move on in the off-season, though: if internal philosophies are so opposing, then a 10 or 20-game tryout to start the next season and “see how things go” wouldn’t have done anybody any good. The Flames are not the Penguins; they do not have the raw talent available to make up for a poor start to a season.

Why start behind the eight-ball when you can start clean and fresh?

A young coach for a young team

Not much word got out during the Flames hiring process, but a name did keep popping up: Gulutzan. We were told to not look for a big name (no Bruce Boudreaus to be found here), and not even necessarily experience – just someone the organization felt would be able to achieve the playing style they wanted.

Outside of his first few months, Treliving hasn’t made many missteps with the Flames. So if Gulutzan is his guy, there must be damn good reason for it – and fair reason to be optimistic about the coming season, and how the Flames will be playing to start the new year.

Gulutzan is only 44 years old. He’s young by NHL coaching standards; only Detroit’s Jeff Blashill and New Jersey’s John Hynes are younger. (Ottawa’s Guy Boucher is older by nine days.) This is fitting, because the major players on Gulutzan’s new team are all pretty young themselves: Mark Giordano is the only impact player on the Flames older than 30.

The Flames are looking for someone to grow with them through the next stage of their rebuild. Gulutzan is a fit: he’s young, and while he’s had a bit of coaching experience at the NHL level earlier this decade, he’s someone who’s had to do a fair bit of growing himself. He’s also a teacher, and who better to bring a youthful team to the next level?

Hopefully, Gulutzan’s results on the ice will reward this off-season’s coaching search.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Not good…

    All I know about him is his NHL record and his videos on line. (“Person of interest”, have a look for yourself).

    The 5th worst team in the NHL fires their head coach and hires the assistant coach of the 3rd worst coach on the NHL….

    When he joined the Canucks they were contenders. 3 years later they are bottom feeders….

    “You can’t trust a forward to play D because they got cookies for scoring goals as kids…”
    Good times!

    I hope I’m wrong…

    WW

    • al rain

      I know little about Gulutzan but Treliving knows a great deal about him (more than all of us put together).

      I know enough about Treliving to trust his judgement on this more than WW’s or First Name Unidentified’s.

      Good times!

        • Trevy

          We get it, you don’t like Huska and McDonald & Hunter were bad picks…you sound like a broken record! But you proved my point that BT learned from those picks and his previous free agent signings in his first year, before you rehash those too, and has been doing a stellar job since!

      • piscera.infada

        I know enough about Treliving to trust his judgement on this more than WW’s or First Name Unidentified’s.

        Couldn’t agree more. No one can honestly argue with a straight face that they have any real idea what Gulutzan is about based on 130 games of NHL head coaching (in a Dallas organization that really didn’t have a lot), and three seasons as an assistant coach under two different regimes in Vancouver. Keep in mind, he has a very similar head coaching resume as Mike Sullivan did prior to the Penguins–and he actually comes from a similar “coaching tree”(Torts, oddly enough–they were actually both assistants in Vancouver under Torts in 13/14).

        If Treliving is confident about how Gulutzan views the way the game is progressing, we have to take that at face value. That’s the biggest thing about this coaching search–how the new coach sees this team moving forward.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        So what you’re saying is that with Treliving making decisions, you can switch off your brain. Don’t doubt. Don’t question. Just accept.

        How many sheep does it take to make a flock?

  • Prototype369

    I am not too familiar with Gulutzan’s coaching philosophy, and neither am I an analytical and Corsi/Fenwick nut, but I would definitely like to see Gulutzan’s adapt to the ever changing nature of the game as it moves more towards strong puck possession, positive play driving, and a mix of skill and speed rather than just size, grit and “heart”. Other than that, I would like to see Poirier on backlund line, please hockey gods. If backlund can drive up possession numbers and in general elevate the game of Bennet, Colborne, Bouma and Feel and, then Poirier, who has a higher ceiling than all those guys other than Bennet, he should fit in perfectly on the Backlund-Frolik line.

  • First Name Unidentified

    Pretty disappointed to hear Gulutzan’s name. Not impressive at all. I just hope he was only signed for one year.

    I guess it’s better than hearing Carlyle’s name

    another season down the drain

    • Nighteyes

      A little premature, eh? He’s a young coach who has been a head coach before and was then an assistant coach for three years after. I think its safe to assume he’s learned a lot, and will most probably approach coaching the Flames differently than he has in the past. I’m sure him and Tre have had some very in depth discussions about style and where Tre sees the team heading. So let’s give this decision the benefit of the doubt until we see it on the ice. I have also read that Gulutzan is a good teacher of X and O’s (in that he is into technicalities and structure). This is something the Flames need that Hartely did not necessarily give them.

  • FireScorpion

    The more I’m reading about him the more I’m liking this. Tre gets his guy and they can both grow together and I think it’s going to be a good fit

  • cunning_linguist

    when BT was hired, there were quite a few who were bit disappointed, wanting a name like Benning instead….look how that worked out. I’m willing to give BT the benefit of the doubt here and assume he has made an intelligent and reasoned decision.

  • Trevy

    Wow..what a bunch of negative, glass half full, we’re screwed, posts! The man has t even coached a single game for the Flames yet! He was very inexperienced when he took over in Dallas and fully admitted it, but he learned from it. In Vancouver he’s dealing with a mixed array of age and talent and a management group that doesn’t know if they’re rebuilding or just retooling on the fly. Even Mike Sullivan’s only had one good year as his first stint as a head coach before failing miserably.

    People deserve a second chance to prove themselves and utilize the invaluable experience from the first time to continue to build something more positive. Give the man a break, he’s had success on every level and any new coach that jumps to the NHL the very first time isn’t just going to excel to the top. BT knows what he’s doing and I’m sure glad he’s a man of intellect and thoroughness before making decisions on people!

  • RKD

    Though I have been critical of Gulutzan because he missed the playoffs twice in Dallas as a head coach. Stats are not everything by all accounts I have heard that Glen is a great communicator, a progressive coach and that guys like Jamie Benn were fans of Gulutzan in regards to their own personal development. If Gulutzan can get Gaudreau, Monahan and Bennett amongst others to another level that would be great but I want to see the pp and pk get a whole lot better.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I think the way to improve the PK is to put, Johnny on it like every other team that he played on did. Now I might change my mind once he gets in the way of blocking a shot but how can a team concentrate on their PP when their is a threat of Johnny taking it down the ice and burying it. I liked Hartley, but it bothered me that he would never use him on the PK. Johnny talked about getting on the PK, so you know it bothered him.

  • Craig

    I was thinking about gulutzan and I remembered something that Tre had mentioned earlier. He wants someone that has built something and won. He said he didn’t care what league or about experience but he wanted someone with that track record.

    Gulutzan was very successful with Las Vegas, and built them to a champion in his tenure there. This , more so than the brief stint with the stars is why he was hired.

    Also I got some insider info, and apparently he was treated very poorly in Dallas because they were going through a tumultuous time with the owners.

    I think this is a great opportunity for him to shine.

  • DeadRedRedemption

    I have nothing against Gulutzan, he probably at least an adequate NHL coach. I simply see this coaching change as the GM covering his ass.

    Had Hartley had decent goaltending last year we wouldn’t be making this change. That falls on the GM. Has a three headed goalie monster ever worked in the NHL? It just doesn’t give the goalies an opportunity to play through their issues. Look at how Ramo and Ortio improved once they were able to string extended games together.

    Hiller, on the other hand… but that still falls on the GM.

    Yes the PK and PP sucked. When players have no confidence in the goaltender behind them that type of issue arises.

    Hartley got screwed.

    In Trev we trust… Ugh.

    Anyways, here we are. Looking forward to a successful year. Better goaltending, a few less bad contracts, and new blood will go along way to make that happen. How much the coaching change affects the Flames record will be questionable. I wanted to see what Hartley could have done with an improved team. Oh well.

    • FeyWest

      “Had Hartley had decent goaltending last year we wouldn’t be making this change.”

      We don’t know this to be true at all, you are certainly making an assumption, which yes you are right to do but I think it was just an opportunity for us to move forward sooner than later.

      I honestly think this is a good thing and that we are trending in the right direction a year sooner, it sounds like the players were starting to dislike Hartley and could easily be part of the reason why he was let go. Tre did have interviews with all players/staff following the end of the year so it easily could have been what was said in them that initiated this whole process.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Yes, it can be argued that Hartley got a raw deal, but he was not a Tree hire. What really sticks out to me is that his name was not mentioned in any of the off season coaching roles. Now it could be argued that he may not have been actively looking. I have heard that some players have stipulated in their contracts that they will not play on a team that Hartley coaches….that is not normal.

      The flip side is that, GG seems to have universal endorsement. You would think that any skeletons would have come out during the forensic investigation. Pretty tough to not have any vocal haters in this industry.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    Did well with two mediocre Dallas Star teams a few years back. Runs a great PK. Should be a good hire. I trust most moves that BT does, especially after shocking everyone with the Hamilton trade last summer. Hopefully they trade for Fleury, get Monahan and Gaudreau signed, and add a top 6 right winger. If that happens, I could see the Flames finishing back in the top 3 in the Pacific.

  • Kevin R

    This is a coach that is on the same page with the GM. If these two feel they can grow this team together, hey, why not. Last year there was a huge disconnect between Hartley & Tre. You can tell by the acquisitions the GM made, contracts he gave, Tre knew the direction he wanted to go to make the Flames better. The way Hartley used those players, seemed totally was opposite what the GM had intended. Hopefully, we won’t have to go on & on this year scratching our heads about ice time of different players.

    Looking forward to the change & see how the players respond.

  • TheoForever

    On Fan960 they spent a lot of time defending this coaching hire and taking shots at fans who don’t like this.

    If you have to spend that much effort defending BT coaching choices and player additions, you know it isn’t going in the right direction.

    • King Quong

      I disagree if you’ve ever read the flames facebook pages comments from other “uneducated fans” you’d realize that most of them don’t follow the flames very well, are pretty stupid and aren’t aware of what’s what in the NHL. Most of them are cranky still because Bob Harley was fired not because of who we hired.

      • TheoForever

        I take an issue with your ‘other uneducated fans’, as it implies I know nothing about Flames, because I’m not licking the boots of BB/BT and have a different opinion.

        I have been Flames fan since I moved here in 1986, and for most of that time I was drinking the kool-aid and tried to see the good in the boneheaded decisions of this organization.

        Well, now that I’m old, I actually have opinions, that don’t start with: -‘well the people making the hire are professional so they know better…’, because the real question is are they any good at their job.

        I listened to the Gulutzan’s interview and he sounds like a good guy but so did Gilbert for example.

        Yeah, I’m not frilled with the choice, we will see how it turns out, hope he becomes the next Badger.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Well played!

          It seems my boy is all growed up.

          Son, you are a man now. Always hold your head up and speak the truth even when that is the last thing that your listener wants to hear.

          Tip of the Stetson to you, lad.

          • ChinookArchYYC

            This is funny. It wasn’t long ago that the shoe was on the other foot. Many of us that wanted Hartley out were saying the same thing.

            Always question authority, but always be prepared to defend your position.

    • T&A4Flames

      Sorry but this as retarded a comment as the knuckleheads that are trashing the hiring on the fan960 text line. You think it’s a bad hire because a bunch of uneducated and somewhat idiotic fans say so??? As opposed to the opinion of an very thorough and knowledgable NHL GM and hockey ops dept?

      Get a grip. Holy crap, give the guy a chance.

      • TheoForever

        Speaking of (Deleted) T&A4Flames, don’t get hysterical and go off the deep end. All, I did is post what was said on the radio and made an evaluation of the commentary, is that a crime?
        I haven’t raised my voice, you have, so relax and get a grip.

        FN MODERATOR: no personal attacks.
        Yes, the moderators are still active. Please keep it clean!

  • Connor McDaigle

    No matter how much you guys complain from your basement, or your mothers, this is a positive hire for this club. It’s going to be up to management to fill the holes in the lineup.
    Winning in this league is very tough with so many good teams ultimately failing. Treliving has been doing a good job building this team, and there’s no reason to think this is any different. Unless the brilliant WW was Skyped in from mom’s computer for all the HC interviews, I will keep my trust in Tre.

    Plus he’s a Sasky product so its a no brainer. 4/7 Canadian team HCs now U of S alumni.